It was yet another conversation with yet another highly talented candidate. The job I was recruiting had everything on his extensive list of must-haves, and nearly everything on his wish list. He, in turn, brought the credentials, experience, and stellar communication skills my client needed most.
Yet, I didn’t leave that conversation ready to place him at the top of my shortlist. Here's why...
While his resume was filled with impressive roles, with equally impressive employers, the truth is, he hadn’t spent much time at any of them. Leveraging the ongoing talent shortage, he had successfully hopped from company to company, chasing ever more generous offers.
Some candidates have been able to leverage the extreme talent shortage to garner income growth at a speed that no merit raises could have matched. Others have shopped and hopped in search of a better work-life balance. I get it.
But today, as worries about the economy seep into more of my recruiting conversations, I worry that many of these up-and-coming professionals are ill-prepared to weather each phase of the normal economic cycle. Here are 3 pieces of advice I’d like to pass along to everyone considering a move.
Don’t mistake the current job market with a forever job market.
If you entered your first professional job any time within the past eight years, this is the only hiring climate you’ve ever known. Employers have courted you, flattered you, and competed with each other to land you. You’re used to being at the center of hiring frenzies, with companies throwing more money, better benefits, and more attractive perks at you. As a result, you’ve likely ignored any suggestion that job-hopping might someday undermine your longer-term career goals.
Based on your own recent experience, it might feel like this is how it always works and always will. But I’ve been an executive recruiter for a while now. And I don’t need to look into a crystal ball to know that it won’t. I only need to look at history.
When the market was this hot in 2006, competition for talent felt very much like it does today. Offers were unprecedented. Candidates, knowing they were in the driver’s seat, remained in near-constant job-seeker mode, leaving each new job when a newer, more attractive one came along. There was a pervasive mentality that this trend would simply continue.
But then 2007 came along and my candidate conversations were very different. As the labor pendulum swung the other way, so did the power dynamic. Talented people were being laid off and suddenly, they were the ones struggling to attract employers, get interviews, and land jobs.
You can already guess which resumes routinely fell to the bottom of the list: those reflecting a pattern of very short stays with each employer.
Understand what job-hopping says to an employer in 2022
I’m not talking about the job-hopping negative connotations of yesteryear. It doesn’t imply “disloyalty.” It’s 2022; savvy employers do not expect their employees to pledge their careers to them. It also doesn’t imply that things “didn’t work out” at each job. Again, it’s 2022. Employers are very aware of why so many people have been migrating rapidly across jobs.
But it does say this:You simply haven’t stayed in any job long enough to establish the kind of competence typically associated with it.
I used to say that it takes at least one year to really acquire the skills and capabilities that any key leadership position entails. Today I’m saying at least three. Why? Because, in the past two years of covid upheaval, some of the fundamentals of leadership development have been missed. That’s not anyone’s fault. But it shows. Yet even today, I frequently speak with more than my fair share of candidates who, 6-8 weeks into a new position are worried they’re missing out on something better.
If that’s you, try stepping back from the frenzy of today and re-visiting what you really want your career to give you, long-term. If it’s growth and the sense of happiness and employability that come with that, bouncing around won’t deliver.
Ask the 3 Value Questions
For candidates, it’s been a long, wild, often exhilarating ride and many indicators suggest that it’s not ending soon. But now is the time to re-visit your highest priorities and take the steps that allow you to achieve them. Here are three questions to help guide your search.
- Is this a role where I can truly bring value?
- Is this a team where employees value and support each other?
- Is this a company whose stated values - and reputation - reflect integrity, fairness, and growth?
If you’re thoughtful and meticulous in finding answers to these questions, you will find yourself where you want to be, with people you want surrounding you, in good times and in bad.